Flat tire leads to $13 mill Hopi paving project
KYKOTSMOVI -- The long awaited paving of Low Mountain Road is in the planning stages.
Thanks to Congressmen Rick Renzi getting a flat tire the paving of Low Mountain Road is in the works.
Route 60, from Rt. 264 to Hopi Partitioned Lands, has a 13-mile stretch that Navajos and Hopis have wanted paved for years.
The road is a key road from the Hopi to Navajo Reservation. Emergency vehicles often use this road and school buses use the road to get kids to school.
Rep. Renzi, an Arizona Republican, received a flat tire while driving the dirt road. He then saw the need for the road to be paved and lobbied his fellow Arizona congressmen to earmark funds for paving the road.
Hopi Chairman Ivan Sidney joked that this time a flat tire had positive results.
Members of the Hopi Transportation Task Team and the Navajo Nation Transportation Team met at Hopi Tribal Council Chambers recently to discuss the $1 million in appropriations earmarked to begin planning and design for paving Low Mountain Road.
The Federal Highway Administration has earmarked funds for this project. The cost of the paving was estimated at about $13 million a couple years ago.
Chairman Sidney credited Jesse Thompson, chairman of the Navajo County Board of Supervisors, as the first official to successfully solicit financial support for the project from his fellow supervisors.
"The financial support from Navajo County certainly helped prioritize the funding request," he said.
Thompson recounted how the project was allocated $20,000 from the Navajo County District 2 Special Project Funds.
"This project is unique and the first of its kind and we are hopeful the joint efforts will continue," Thompson said referring to the partnership between the Hopi and Navajo tribes, the federal government, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Arizona Department of Transportation, local villages, chapter houses and Navajo County.
Navajo Council Representative Samson Begay said "by working together we can accomplish many things to help our people."
Rep. Begay said he is glad that the two tribes are beginning to hold coordinated meetings so they can complete much-needed projects.
"These projects are beneficial to the two tribes. It's beginning to happen. The two tribes can do a lot of joint efforts together for the two people," he said.
Mark Maryboy, chairman of the Navajo Transportation Community Development Committee, said this was a historical meeting.
"This is the first time I have ever met with a Hopi delegation. I am excited. We have made some progress," he said.
Maryboy said another meeting has been set for April 4 where the two tribes will address a Memorandum of Understanding or other agreement to work on the road project. He said a meeting in Washington D.C. will also be needed to gather with the Arizona congressional delegation.
The Hopi Tribal Council will host a meeting with a Navajo delegation April 10 in Hopi Council chambers to talk about how they will proceed with the paving of Low Mountain Road.
The Navajo-Hopi Joint Transportation Team will meet at that time with eight Navajo leaders and staff including Navajo Speaker of the House Lawrence Morgan.
In turn, Hopi Chairman Sidney has been invited to address the Navajo Tribal Council April 17.
Chairman Sidney praised the work of officials from Hopi Jr/Sr High School for presenting the safety issues revolving around students who attend the school and use the road to get to school.
(Stan Bindell, former Observer editor, is journalism and radio teacher at Hopi High School.)